Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Guidelines on transboundary consultations, public participation and co-operation


The HELCOM-VASAB Working Group agreed on principles for transboundary consultation within specific MSP processes as well as transboundary pan-Baltic cooperation in more general terms. The guidelines are non-binding, but recommended to be applied voluntarily to set joint standards for MSP cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What steps should a country preparing an MSP process undertake to include the perspectives and input of its neighbouring countries?

  • What kind of input should the neighbouring countries deliver?

  • How can transboundary stakeholder consultation be organised?

  • How to further develop cooperation on MSP in the context of an existing sea-basin organisation dedicated to transboundary aspects of MSP?

Implementation context

The Regional Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap 2013-2020, which was adopted by the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in 2013 and confirmed by the VASAB Ministerial Conference in 2014, calls for the development of guidelines on and Public participation for MSP with transboundary dimension as well as transboundary consultation and cooperation in the field of MSP. The HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group approved the guidelines. They will be submitted to VASAB CSPD/BSR and the HELCOM meeting of the Head of Delegation (HOD) for final adoption.

Aspects / Objectives

The guidelines provide recommendations for

  • transboundary consultation and cooperation for a specific MSP process, typically involving neighbouring countries and including related public participation process
  • transboundary pan-Baltic cooperation on MSP on issues affecting most or all Baltic Sea states

Recommendations on transboundary consultation and cooperation for a specific MSP process

  1. Broadening the scope of transboundary dialogue beyond the Espoo convention
  2. Establishing a formal process of transboundary information exchange and consultation early in the MSP process
  3. Organising stakeholder involvement in the transboundary consultation process via the authorities in the neighbouring country
  4. Developing a transnational consultation strategy (minimum requirements)
  5. Strenghtening informal transboundary cooperation processes

Recommendations for transboundary pan-Baltic cooperation

  1. Continuing cooperation under the auspices of the VASAB CSPD/BSR, the HELCOM HOD and the HELCOM-VASAB MSP working group
  2. Creating and facilitating expert groups for pertinent MSP topics and issues and implementing their results
  3. Engaging and cooperating with other pan-Baltic organisations on a continuous basis
  4. Promoting informal pan-Baltic co-operation of MSP practitioners

Main Outputs / Results

These guidelines are legally of a non-binding character, however, the intention of the document is that eventually all Baltic Sea countries would be in position to use it and carry out transboundary consultation according to a common practice and as described in the guidelines


The guidelines can inform the process of agreeing on principles for transboundary cooperation and consultation in other sea basins.

Contact Person

Anita Mäkinnen

Co-chair of the HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group

Finnish Transport Safety Agency

Email: (anita[dot]makinen[at]trafi[dot]fi)

Phone: +358 401624592


Andrzej Cieslak

Co-chair of the HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group

Maritime Office in Gdynia

Email: (cieslak[at]umgdy[dot]gov[dot]pl)

Phone: +48 583553435

Responsible Entity